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for Mary

When one of them dies
We scour the obituary for any mention
Of our existence
But really, what would it say?
Beloved child lost to adoption
That one we left and forgot
Daughter/granddaughter of people whose names we did not know
The one we love in private but whom we still cannot mention in public

Although one would think
After emails and envelopes
After visits and phone calls
After seeing us face to face
After tentative, years-withheld embraces

That we would be worthy of
Less than an inch of newsprint
That they could see fit to speak our names

But after decades of invisibility
Of being erased from birth certificates
Of having our original names float into ether
Of having vital documents locked away
Of being told no no no no
You have no right

Is it a surprise, then?
That when we search the white space
Between the legitimate names
All we see is blankness
Pure as winter sky
Not even clouds with which to form
Vague shapes of the alphabet

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